It is not uncommon to assume that only dogs can do tricks. But with enough patience and effort, cats can be taught to do tricks too! So what are the tried and tested tricks for cats?
Even the most independent and unsociable cats are capable of learning tricks, given the right incentive. Kim Houston, a leading cat behaviorist in the UK, said this, “Unfortunately, our feline friends are often wrongly viewed as disobedient and stubborn – when, in fact, they are supremely intelligent and extremely trainable. However,” she continues, “the key to training them lies in understanding what motivates them, and using positive, reward-based techniques.”
With that perspective, let us see how we can teach cats tricks, and what trick ideas are possible for our favorite felines.
Guideline to Training Cats
The key to implementing tricks for cats is the combination of persistence, patience and positive reinforcement. And the first step is:
Cats need to be constantly rewarded with tasty treats to learn new tricks. Make sure that her treats are bite sized and abundant. She will have to be given a treat frequently when training in short sessions.
To keep your cat interested in training, varying the treats is a good idea. Some ideas are pieces of tuna, chunked chicken or cat treats.
Get your cat’s attention
Cats have moods, and she might not want to learn tricks when you want to teach her. However, a piece of treat might just be enough to convince her.
If a small treat is not enough, try a small moving object to get her attention. Cats are not as food-motivated as dogs are, so food treats might not be as effective to cats as they are to dogs.
If she really does not want to learn a trick, do not force her. Cats do not respond well to forcing. Instead, just be patient and maybe try again at another time.
Use a cat clicker
A clicker is a small device used by animal trainers, a device that produces a small tick. Each time your cat does an action which you want to be repeated, give her a click and a treat.
That method conditions your cat to repeat the behavior.
Brief and Consistent Sessions
Training sessions should be brief and consistent. Cats, like other creature, learn much faster with repetition. This means that frequent training sessions should make teaching your cat more efficient.
Making the sessions short is the key to keeping your cat interested long enough for her to want to keep trying.
No “Cue Words” until she has learned the trick
Cue words are what an owner say to make the pet do the trick, they are short commands like “Sit” or “High five.”
You should only use cue words once the cat knows the trick, so she can strongly associate the word with the trick.
Just one at time
It is imperative that a cat only learns one trick at a time. If not, she will get confused and will lose interest in all tricks. Cats have a short attention span and she will not understand what behavior is being rewarded during training if more than one trick is being taught.
Integrate positive compliments with treats for positive responses to expedite the training process. Until she has mastered the trick, do not move on to another.
This point can not be stressed hard enough, CATS DO NOT RESPOND WELL TO PUNISHMENTS! A cat should only be rewarded, with praise and treats, for good behavior. That is how they learn.
Punishments or scolding make your cat stressed and will make her disinterested in continuing the activity.
What are Tricks for Cats?
Do not be shocked that cats can also do what dogs can do. Fetch is one of those things.
Begin by making the toy smell like her food. Then throw the toy out of your baby’s reach to activate her hunting skills. Once she retrieves the toy, give her a click and a treat. If she brings the toy to you, give her another click and a treat.
Once she gets the idea, add the word fetch with each throw.
How to Teach Your Cat to Sit
Grab the cat’s attention by dangling a treat just above her face. When she stalks it with her eyes, move the treat slowly above her head, between her ears. Cats will naturally take a sitting position when tracking the treat.
Once she takes a sitting position, click and give her the treat. If she consistently accomplishes the trick at least nine out of ten, incorporate the word “Sit”.
How to Teach Your Cat to High Five
Begin by encouraging your cat to raise its paw by giving her a treat every time she does. Then, with a treat in your fist, wait for your cat to try to grab it with her paw. Click and treat for every time she does it.
Repeat this process over and over, gradually lifting your hand until her action resembles a high-five. Incorporate the “High Five” command when she already understands the trick.
Why Teach Your Cat Tricks?
Tricks for cats are a good way of keeping her mind agile and active. Training her also serves are a means of expanding her natural abilities.
Another benefit of training your cat tricks is that you will form a stronger bond with her. Investing your time and effort into teaching your cat tricks will be well worth when the rewards are reaped. Your cat will respond well to you.
One last benefit of teaching your cat is that she will be more adorable. Because what is more adorable than a cute kitty? A kitty that can do tricks!